This is a post that I’ve been encouraged to write this week and it is a little scary. I think I’ve resisted to write in too much depth here before, possibly because it feels a little too self-absorbed, would you really be interested? and also because it takes courage to make myself vulnerable. This story contains deep emotions and struggles of mine, I know not everyone will understand. But if there is anything I’ve learnt over the last few years, it’s that vulnerability creates true, deep connection. My vain hope is that this site is an encouragement to create, to be creative and to connect. Because I think this is essential for emotional, spiritual and mental health, and I have found it to be so.
I came to write, create this blog/website from a life journey that like many has been hard, beautiful, broken and recreated. This is my attempt to tell some of my story here and how it caused me to be here writing this website now.
My husband and I started a little design agency and grew it over a period of 10 years, our aim was to serve our clients and employees the best way we knew how. We invested in the business and learnt so many lessons, it was very hard and took faith to live and trust that there would be enough in the bank accounts through the month. 10 years in and it was good, great work, clients and great people working with us. Over this period I also had three children, my mum beat breast cancer, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma and we moved house twice. With the birth of our third child our little cottage was now too small so we decided to sell and buy a larger place.
The same week our son was born, we sold our house and the business started to fall apart.
Our main business was for departments across the local public sector, and with a change in government and the economic crash, one by one projects were cancelled. Projects already started and booked in. We hung on, tried to do the best by our employees but the work dried up.
We moved into a rented house as our lives started to fall apart financially, emotionally and mentally. We believed in a good God yet everything bar our beautiful children was crap. My Dad’s lymphoma returned, we had many distressing moments where we struggled to pay the bills, horrible phone calls from institutions wanting money and even worse, wondering how to put food on the table for our little family.
Unsurprisingly we were both diagnosed with depression. I had a baby at home and two children at school, I am amazed really at how well they weathered the storm going on around them. (Maybe we’ll be paying for their therapy later!) We struggled through 2 years in that first rental house. As you know, I write here about making and creating for the home, it is one of my loves, so to live in a temporary house with no freedom and no money to decorate was stifling. It sounds so first world problem, but there was a desire to create a safe space, a nest for my children. Not only that, the depression meant that to create anything was impossible too, I lacked the motivation, the inspiration and the energy, the focus was gone. I was exhausted just trying to stay alive. I also felt shame and guilt not only for the failure of the business but because I was blamed solely for our situation by someone, and many other Christians believe that depression is just bad thinking, lack of faith or blessing, or just being negative. So I felt isolated from and misunderstood by the very community that had always been my home and safe place. I also felt so lonely, it felt as if everyone around me was talking about their moving house, home extensions and improvements, and I had nothing to say, and I was jealous. Ok, maybe that last bit was a little self pitying.
There are a few special people in that time that held us, prayed with and for us and saw us through and I found that there were some Christians out there who understood depression and understood the need for chemical help. I believe that God is our provider and no food on the table was causing a lack of faith in him in me. But we didn’t starve, and there were some very sacrificial saints who gave to us. We stumbled through. I still have faith that God loves me but I don’t have all the answers to my desperate questions.
I slowly found my way out of the black hole, and I began to make things again. The irony being that the very thing that I couldn’t do in my depression was the thing I found that I most needed to do. A friend and I began to run creative events where others would come to make things and some would say that it was like therapy and that it was a needed space to make something beautiful. I began to see that to create was good and a reflection of my heavenly father, and that it was healing to the soul. It helped with healing mine.
Five years on and I won’t say that everything is perfect and we are living happily ever after, because we’re not. But it is better. Since that first rental house we have lived in two more rentals, and that is really hard for me. I find moving exhausting and the kids hate it. Just this last December (2014) we had to move again and the journey was traumatic due to an initial possibility of buying a house and not be at the whim of landlords, and that falling apart and then not being able to find a rental house available at the time we had to move. We found a house at the last minute that has worked out ok, but I was exhausted again and found myself crippled with debilitating anxiety. I would wake in the middle of the night with my heart pounding not being able to breathe through the fear. I would have panic attacks where I would literally tremble and be rooted to the spot. It seemed irrational, but mentally there was something wrong and it manifested physically. But I know a bit more how to treat myself in this now, I got some therapy, I was kind to myself, I saw the doctor and I started to focus on creating again. I have learnt not to put my faith and security in houses. I have learnt to create with limited resources and that there are still ways to decorate spaces even if they are temporary with restrictions and that it is ok to want to do that. I have also learnt that God doesn’t always bless us with material things, but he blesses us with experiences and growth.
And here I am, raw and vulnerable from writing this but hopeful in that perhaps there is someone who is saying; “me too”. You are not alone. I think we are all creative, I believe that we reflect the character of God, who made us in his image, when we create. I believe that we need to feel free to create whether that be in art, design, thinking, baking, sewing, crafting, writing and much more. So if you feel the need to create – do it! Get creative, don’t worry about the outcome, just create. I will be cheering you on and I believe that God cheers you on too.
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